May 6, 2011

Rao Tula Ram

Posted by Yadav On 10:11 AM 1 comment

Rao Tula Ram (Hindiराव तुला राम) (c. 9 December 1825–1863) was one of the most important leaders of the 1857 revolt in Haryana. He is considered a state hero [2].
He is credited with having "obliterated every vestige" of the British rule from the region that today is southwest Haryana, and also helping rebel forces fighting in the historic city of Delhi with men, money and material. Credited to be a good administrator and military commander, after the uprising petered out, he is known to have left India, met rulers of Iran and Afghanistan and also established contacts with the Tsar of Russia, to seek their help to fight a war to free India from the British. His death in Kabul on September 23, 1863, however, resulted in the plan turning unsuccessful.

Early life

Rao Tula Ram was born on 9 December 1825 in a Royal Rao Bhadur Nirpur Yadav family which belonged to "Rao Bhadur Ghari-Bolni" in village Rampura (Rewari). His father was Puran Singh and his mother's name was Gyan kaur who was daughter of Great Jat ruler Maharaja Ranjit Singh.[3][4]

[edit]1857 Revolt

In 1857, Rao Tula Ram led the rebellion in Haryana along with his brother Rao Bhadur Tula Ram of Ghari Bolni and Rao Gopal Dev of Nirpur. The ancestors of the Raos had helped the Marathas in 1803 against the British; when the East India Company came out successful in the struggle, they confiscated their Jagir and gave instead an 'istamarari' grant of about 58 villages. This was a great blow to the Raos, which shattered their position and made them unhappy with British Raj.
On l7 May, 1857, Tula Ram went to the tehsil headquarters at Rewari with four to five hundred followers and deposed the tahsildar and thanedar. They appropriated the cash from the tehsil treasury, took all the government buildings in their possession and proclaimed, under the sanction of Emperor Alamgir Bahadur Shah, their rule over the pargana of RewariBehror and Shahjahanpur. For their headquarters, they chose Rampura, a small fortified village, one mile south-west of Rewari. Tula Ram, the elder Rao, became Raja and Rao Tula Ram of Ghari Bolni, Rao Ram Singh, Rao Kishan Gopal and Rao Gopal Dev his commander-in-chief.
After assuming office, Tula Ram organized the revenue department and collected revenue and taxes. He raised a force (about five thousand men) and set up a large workshop in the fort of Rampura where a substantial number of 'guns, gun-carriages, and other small Arms and ammunition were manufactured. The Rao enforced law and order and defended his State from outside attacks. These activities pleased Bahadur Shah and he confirmed Rao Tula Ram in his Jagirs of Rewari, Bhora and Shahjahanpur. Tula Ram in return rendered all possible help to Emperor Bahadur Shah and those rebels waging war against the British in Delhi. He sent Rs.45,000 through General Bakht Khanat such a critical time when non-payment of the salaries to the sepoys had caused great insecurity and anxiety, though this small sum did not improve the situation. The Rao also supplied the Delhi forces with large quantities of necessary commodities.
But this help could not protect Delhi which fell to the British on September 20, 1857. Soon after Brigadier-General Showers led out a column (from Delhi) of 1,500 men with a light field battery, 18 two-pounder guns and two small mortars, "to attack and destroy Rao Tula Ram and his follower and to raze his fort (at Rewari)." The column had light skirmish with some Rewari-sowars on October 5 at Pataudi, 37 miles from Delhi. In the words of Hodson, who accompanied the column: "... they turned, fired at our advance, and bolted at speed ..."[5] The column's next attack was direct, on Rewari, which was still held by Rao Tula Ram.

[edit]The Battle of Narnaul

The British column reached Rewari on October 6. The fort of Rewari (Rampura) was taken without any opposition. Immediately after the occupation of the fort of Rewari, Brigadier-General Showers sent a messenger to Tula Ram telling him that if he submitted along with guns and arms, he would be treated on merits. But Tula Ram turned down the inducement. The British authorities at Delhi were alarmed by these developments. They sent a strong column comprising about 1,500 strong under Colonel Gerrard, an officer of conspicuous merit on November 10, 1857. The column reached Rewari three days later. They occupied the abandoned fort of Rampura. Here they were joined by two squadrons of the Carabineers. After a few days rest at Rewari (Rampura), Colonel Gerrard proceeded to Narnaul via Kund reached there in the evening. In the night he was joined by the Haryana Field Force. On November 16, Gerrard marched to Narnaul. As the track was sandy, the column reached Nasibpur, a small village, two miles northwest of Narnaul and halted for a short rest. The rebel force, having abandoned their strong fort in the center of the town, pounced on them. Rao Tula Ram's first charge was irresistible and the British forces scattered before them. The Patiala Infantry and the Multani Horse on the British left were completely disheartened. The whole of the right Bank tied. But at this juncture, the Guides and the Carabineers came to their rescue and saved the situations.
The English fire, especially of the artillery was too much for the rebels. The Guides and the Carabineers, under the cover of the artillery fire, made a heavy attack. Next, the 1st Bengal Fusiliers swooping upon the weak rebel Artillery, captured some of their guns. This encouraged the British cavalry on the right and they pressed through the Indian ranks and successfully overpowered them on right and in the center. But soon the situation took an unexpected turn when Col. Gerrand, the British Commandant, was mortally wounded by a musket ball, with the result that the British too were demoralized. Taking full advantage of the circumstances, Rao Tula Ram swooped down upon them. The British could not stand the charge and the Multani Horse fled away in bewilderment. They recaptured their guns and inflicted heavy losses on the enemy. The right and the left wings of the British forces were thrown into confusion.
Appreciating the gravity of the situation Major Caulfield, the officiating British Commandant, ordered his artillery to start heavy bombardment and his cavalry and infantrymen to charge straight on with full force in to their front ranks. Rao Tula Ram's forces fought back furiously and stood their grounds. The British artillery fire, nevertheless, broke their backbone and split their forces into two parts — one engaged in the close quarter battle and the other fleeing to go out of the range of the British guns. Meanwhile Kishan Singh and Ram Lal, the two best commanders, received musket shots and died. This disheartened Rao Tula Ram's forces and they retreated. The British resumed advance until they came to a dry bed of a stream flowing between Nasibpur and Narnaul. The British guns were unable to cross the stream owing to sand, so they diverged to the right and took up a position near the Horse Artillery guns, whilst the 23rd Panjab Infantry and Patiala Infantry with other units of the cavalry crossed the stream and advanced towards the camp.
The heavy artillery and infantry fire confused Rao Tula Ram; and they ran pell-mell in all directions. Mostly, they retreated to the town and hid in the buildings. The pursuit of the fleeing soldiers was quick and inexorable, and they were very soon driven out of the town after a little fighting Rao Tula Ram lost the day and, when the sun went down, there remained none in Narnaul except heaps of corpses here and there. Though Tula Ram and Mohammed Shamshad Khan of Mewat, Rao Sahab Tula Ram of Ghari Bolni, Raja Nahar Singh ji of Wallabh Garh & Nawab Abdul Samad Khan of Jhajhar escaped, Rao Kishan Singh, Rao Ram Lal, Nawab Samad Khan's son and many other top-ranking officers were killed in action. The British captured nine guns and other arms. The total loss on the British side was 70 killed and 45 wounded. They lost their commander, Col. Gerrard and Capt. Wallace, while Lieutenants Graije, Kennedy and Pearse were severely wound.
The battle of Narnaul was undoubtedly one of the most decisive battles of the Uprising of 1857. The English felt jubilant over their success in this confrontation, for it marked the close of the crucial period of the struggle in the Haryana region and northern Rajasthan. In the battle, a large number of Muslims from Rewari and its nearby areas participated especially after the issue of Fatwa by Mufti Nizamuddin ibn Mufti Imamuddin as a part of Jihad.

[edit]Exile and post-fight

After the battle, Rao Tula Ram moved into Rajasthan; then joined Tantya Tope's forces for one year. Refusing the British offers of surrender he left India in 1862 for Iran. He went to Afghanistan in the winter of 1862, where he died of dysentery at Kabul on 23 September 1863 at a young age of 38.
His cousin Gopal Dev also fled from Narnaul and stayed with one of his relatives at Udairamsar, a village in Bikaner State,in perfect secrecy for four years. Offers of surrender were made to him through his friends by the Deputy Commissioner of Gurgaon but he shunned all enquiries. In consequence, his Jagir of 41 villages was confiscated. He died in 1862.
With the end of the revolt, the vengeance of the British started. Hundreds of people were hanged or shot dead and their villages burnt. Mufti Nizamuddin was arrested from Rewari, while his brother Mufti Yaqinuddin and brother-in-law Abdur Rahman (alias Nabi Baksh) ibn Samiullah ibn Shah Mohammad Shoeb were brought to Delhi from Tijara to be hanged by British forces. Rao Tula Ram and Gopal Dev were dispossessed of their Jagirs. Pran Sukh Yadav, ally of Rao Tula Ram Yadav, helped the kin of the dead soldiers by rehabilitating them near Narnaul.

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